Friday, August 11, 2006

When things lighten up...

My dad was a busy man. He worked as a bank teller for a full work week and also directed the church choir, which took over Sundays and Wednesday nights (as well as other nights for meetings at the church, for he was also a church leader). That left Saturdays, which was usually devoted to grocery shopping and chauffering his father-in-law to various destinations, as well as for years an every-other-Saturday trip to see his mother-in-law who was confined in a mental health facility two hours away. Weeknights would find him driving my sister and me to and from the Ellis Auditorium, where we ushered for the Metropolitan Opera, the Memphis Symphony, concerts, and Broadway shows.

In other words, Dad had very little time for himself or his hobbies. He never complained; in fact, he was always graciously willing to sacrifice his time for others. Every once in a while, though, we would catch a glimpse of longing in his gray-blue eyes as he dreamed of spending more time on traveling, more time on his stamp collection, more time on his home movies, more time on his reading, and he would say his mantra: "When things lighten up, I'll...."

Well, they never did lighten up. There was always more choir music to plan and practice, more meetings, more obligations. There were the parents' nights at school, which he always made sure he attended, even if it meant canceling choir practice. There were funerals and illnesses, weddings and birthdays, things that needed done around the house and yard, and hours spent trying to figure out how to send his two girls to college.

So he squeezed his hobbies in where he could and came, I believe, to accept that life was all about the journey and not the destination, and he understood that his life was fulfilled in many different ways. He never did get all his dreams accomplished, but then, who among us ever does?

I find myself saying the exact same thing. "When things lighten up, I'll..." and you can just fill in the blank. Get back to quilting, cross-stitching, sewing. Practice piano, harp, singing. Learn how to use Photoshop, Garage Band (a Mac program on my computer), and get all my books entered in Delicious Library (a book cataloging system on my computer). I'll focus more on healthy eating, get some exercise, try to commune with nature, read those books, learn geography.

Alas, things don't lighten up. At least not for very long. I have so many things "on the back burner" that I'm about to overload the electrical circuit.

For instance, I said, "When we sell the house..." The first step has been taken in that goal, because I am pleased to announce that we HAVE A CONTRACT! As they say on the TV informercials, "BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!" Lots more, in fact. We have to get a general inspection, we have to replace 3 window panes, we have to have a radon inspection, we have to get the furnace cleaned, we have to get some trim painted, we have to open up a door that has been caulked closed - and that's just for the house we are selling. The list is just as extensive for the house we are building. Decisions to make, plans to finalize, loans to organize, then we spend the rest of the time hoping the contract holds and the interested buyers will not back out for some reason so we will not be left "holding the bag."

So I say, "Well, when we close on the house..." Nope, things won't lighten up then. Because it's then we will have to MOVE. I don't want to even think about how much fun that will be.

I keep moving my timeline to when I think things will lighten up, but deep down I know, being one of Ensley's daughters, that I am just kidding myself, and that instead of wistfully dreaming of the time when things will lighten up, I will just have to plan my life around stress and chaos and obligations.

I'm hoping my new book will help. It's called The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One. The title described me perfectly, and I am anxious to read it. And I'm not even going to wait until things lighten up to do so!

1 comment:

Tif said...

Let me know if it's better than the Handymama Six-Month Plan to Getting Something Done.